I know I made some people wait quite a bit for this last installment of my three-part series of “What my marriage taught me”. I apologize for the delay. This took a bit of time for obvious reasons. It was the hardest to compose. It is the hardest because being teachable alludes a bit of humility, does it not? Yes, money and fear are big topics and there is a lot to learn. Always. But when we are talking about ourselves in our 40’s, aren’t we supposed to be experts on ourselves? On our relationships?
In my mid 20’s and I became single after a long six-year first-love kind of thing, I thought it would be “so exciting” and how I am going to find someone better than who I had left out of impatience and drifting apart. For the record, I never did find someone better right after leaving. That’s far and away a different story. Anyway, back then it was 1995 and I was hopelessly devoted to Alanis Morissette. Jagged Little Pill was my anthem back then. Damn! I had a lot to learn.This was when I thought I knew something about something. I had a 20-something sized ego and my bumper sticker on my Honda CRX said “Whatever”. That should say someting.
Since then I had traipsed through flings, AOL chat room encounters, short relationships, being cheated on, and mostly just being single. So much, yet really not SO much. I learned to trust less, have too much fun and I believed sincerely that I would sleep when I die. I was a bit of a party girl. With out the drugs. A little alcohol, but really just guys….and more of the same nightclub/bar type existence.
Advance to 2006: I had just broken up with my boyfriend (as you know, the one that would be my husband in 2009). I thought I had learned that his bit of expressed anger and rage was too much for me. I guess not. I guess his charm and his ….everything….got to me AGAIN. I just didn’t learn. Not then. Not yet.
Advance to 2010: I returned to Denver with my tail between my legs. This relationship was done. I failed. Again. This time with lessons. Oh, there were lessons. I realized what dignity was. I realized what it meant to feel I had none. I knew what rock bottom really meant. I had no idea; I was completely naive to how rock bottom would feel exactly. For me: my life reduced to boxes packed in three hours, a rented car filled with some clothes, my dog and me. I was a grown adult who only had a ring on my finger that I would need to pawn at some point, my precious puggle Max and my mom’s American Express. I had what little cash I took out (originally $200 a week before leaving Florida) before our accounts were frozen by him.
I got home. I cried it out. Every fucking day. There were tears. Yes, tears for him. Tears when he swore me out with horrible names the night I told him I got my old job back back in Denver. Tears of loss. Tears of failure. You get the idea. I went into therapy and saw a wonderful lady who really got me through the pawning of the wedding ring (I had to eat and pay a little rent), the paperwork after being served divorce papers at my door step by a process-server, the trauma of being such a failure. But she helped me realize that what I went through was unique, but not unique. Not everyone gets divorced after rage, post throwing dangerous objects, post verbal abuse and “silent treatment” episodes (to teach me lessons about talking too much). Not everyone suffers unpredictable rage that has absolutely nothing to do with what the non abuser may have actually done or not done. But those who have been through that know what that looks like. And feels like. Even if they didn’t know back then. The first time I had a clue that there is something beside physical abuse that counts as some type of abuse was when I called the police the second time at the encouragement of my father. My ex hadn’t actually hurt me, but for the first and last time, he did put his hands on me in a forceful way (to extract car keys). My father said I need to report that in light of what had happened the previous nights (ex trying to kick me out of my own place). This is the first time I learned first hand of something other than physical/sexual abuse. The police officer who took my report that day gave me a list of numbers on a card that described all types of abuse. This card was given to me by a male police officer. I dont know why that’s relevant, but it was to me at that time. It was a comfort that another male would recongnize the treatment was not right. I was extremely grateful, but more grateful long after I had left Florida. I was still shell-shocked having to even make a report at the time.
So, the aftermath: 2010-2016: I survived an awful divorce and monetary losses, loss of dignity, trust, and developed a necessity for hyper-analysis of every infraction against me that I had perceived . I think I resented what he had done to me in the divorce and aftermath more than the crimes of the actual marital discord. I had a few relationships in 2016 and some online adventures up to then which I posted about previously.
What I learned about everything, including 2016, the birth of my blog!
- Humility is being teachable and allows me to progress to better and more healthy relationships.
- Admitting regrets: I can regret something and recognize I made a mistake, I had a lapse of judgement. I would love to say I live with out regrets. I don’t think I can say that right now. I think that sounds a bit righteous and a little ignorant. Can’t we all admit we didn’t do something perfectly, something we would like to do a little differently?
- Honesty: What do I want? What can I handle and what can’t I handle in my future relationships? What are my red flags? Can I hold up to my own side of the bargain-for the sake of my dignity, can I walk away from those red flags?
- Don’t write about people in current relationships with out their consent. I learned this in my last relationship after trying to get him to read my blog after every entry that mentioned him. After getting into a heated discussion, he read one and felt blindsided. I recognize that I will preserve people’s privacy until they are comfortable with being mentioned in a most anonymous sense.
- I learned that what I really have after all this is anxiety: Still. After all these years from the series of unpredictability and rage in my uber-brief marriage. I may have had it before I was even married; however, it spiraled out of control in the years since, includng the first few years of my recovery from the divorce. Now I can admit it is something I have to, and want to work on, something that I seek help for to make these relationships work. So I don’t sabotage the really awesome opportunities and people who come into my life.
SO… some of you may be asking about #3: What are my red flags in the aftermath? What can I handle? What did I learn that I really need and got honest about it? Why don’t I write that as a part two of this third installment.
Please leave me a comment if you would like to hear more of this detail in #3 and I’d be happy to include a part two!
Music pairing: If I need to say it: Okay! I was inspired by Alanis, because when I am not in the old space, I need to be reminded of how it felt. Jagged Little Pill does that wonderfully.